I am a feminist. Not apologetically, under my breath. I believe that the single most important civil rights movement of the 20th century was feminism. But then, I live in the United States, where women have a great deal of freedom. I never cease to be grateful for the fact that I was born here. Being born female in the majority of the world is a very, very bad thing. That is, if you get born at all. Sex-selection abortion, for example, is rampant throughout Asia and the Asian continent.
Brownworth goes on to recount her niece's description of her time in Cairo:
She is a formidable young woman, remarkably fearless, and wears the privilege that comes with being born female in the United States; she will not be made second-class.
But according to her firsthand reports, there was never a day in Cairo or its outskirts when she was not the victim of demeaning and damaging sexual predation. She was angered and repulsed by the constant assaults - verbal and physical - but in no way cowed by them. As she noted, a tone of surprising bitterness in her voice, "At least I always knew I was coming home."
In a very different, quiet voice, she added, "But as I traveled outside Cairo, it was so hard knowing that all around me were women who were victims of FGM [female genital mutilation]."
Brownworth, herself a rape survivior, then recalls an exchange with a woman in Libya; the two women had discussed the case of the Saudi rape victim who was sentenced to 90 lashes. (I posted on it here.) The woman's sentence was increased after she challenged the ruling; she was finally pardoned after international protest.
My friend in Libya was appalled by my "insensitivity and disrespect" for Islamic law. I told her I would be equally outraged had this occurred in a Christian theocracy - except there haven't been any for centuries.
She then told me that if the woman hadn't gotten into a car with a strange man, she wouldn't have been raped. So although the penalty seemed harsh from my "Western perspective", it was for the woman's own protection.
I am no longer friends with this woman. ...
It's worth your time to read the whole piece, and pass it on to a friend. It's in Curve 18 #4; you can purchase back issues at the link.
On a side note, Curve doesn't ignore lesbian conservatives. Go here and scroll down for a McCain endorsement:
I’m a rare out lesbian this campaign year because in the face of two Democratic candidates who are dividing almost the entire LGBT vote, I’m voting for the other guy: John McCain. Before you call me a traitorous wretch and lob verbal attacks about internalized homophobia, let me explain. I’ve been a Republican since Ronald Reagan was in the Oval Office, though I briefly fell off the wagon to support Clinton No. 1, which I regretted almost instantly.
To hear former President Bill Clinton tell it today, he and Hillary are the most gay-positive politicos out there. However, Clinton himself signed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”—which has ousted thousands of queer service members since it was enacted in 1993—as well as the Defense of Marriage Act.
John McCain supported it too, but he remained one of the few Republicans to rally against a federal anti-gay marriage amendment, calling it “antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans.” Like a true Republican, he’s repeatedly said that states should have the right to define their own policies. ...
Go to the link for the rest. When you're done, check out Tammy Bruce:
I’m a pro-choice lesbian feminist. I’m also an independent conservative and have grown increasingly frustrated with all the candidates for president. I have never voted for a candidate because of the letter after the name, and I still have not made a decision about whom I will vote for in November. For the first time in a presidential race I am not only not excited about a candidate, I am extremely concerned about all their agendas.
How I identify may sound like a contradiction, but it’s really not. I want government to be small and unobtrusive. Whenever government gets big, that means it’s interfering in our lives, and that’s never been a good thing for gays, whose freedom and independence rely in large part on the majority leaving us alone. A main problem is how conservatism is viewed—which is that it has been attached to religious politics for too long. ...
Well worth a read. Longtime readers of Dreams Into Lightning will recall that a piece in Curve prompted my 2004 post on women and power.